I must admit that a few conmen are extra smart and have every answer, mind you convincing, for any question. They study the psychology of the buyer well. Take, for example, my recent encounter with a conman posing as a technical expert on solar power equipment. “Sir, I can provide you solar light and solar heaters at a reasonable price. We have our own showroom. Please drop in in case you have any questions.” I wasn’t impressed, as I had no use of a solar light or solar powered-water heater.
That was not the end of the matter. He took out a compact fluorescent light bulb. “Sir, this tube provides 18 watt light. It has an additional feature. It can act as a standby light source.” I was sceptical about his claim, “How can it act as a standby light?” “We have modified the Japanese light bulb by fitting a capacitor and battery.” I looked doubtfully at the tube and I could discern it was of a Chinese make though I couldn’t be very certain of it.
Then I fired a few technical questions, which he answered confidently. By this time my wife too joined in the discussion. “Let’s try at least one,” she pleaded. “It’s so cheap you know and would act as a standby light too,” she confided.
That man lost no time fitting the tube into a socket and switched it on. It worked. Much against my good sense, I bought two of these tubes. “Sir, from next week the price would be Rs. 300. I am now offering it for Rs. 250,” so saying he took out his cash memo book and gave me the receipt. “It’s guaranteed for five years,” was sweet music to our ears.
Being a doubting Thomas, I wanted to make sure his claims about the tube being a standby light source. I allowed the tube to be charged for one and half hours, as he had suggested, and then switched off the mains. Well, the light went off! Now I was fairly sure I was conned by a glib talking conman. It was then that I decided to visit the shop. On enquiry about the whereabouts of the shop, a helpful person on the premises laughed, “Sir, lots of customers are coming to this place to check. There is no shop bearing that number, neither is there any shop by that name.”
“What about the telephone number and the mobile number given on the cash memo?” I bleated. “Sir, these numbers don’t exist!” He was right. “This number is not in use,” was the identical reply for both the telephone and the mobile numbers printed on the cash memo.
I walked back sheepishly. I consoled myself, “The tube costs Rs 80 or so. That means I have paid Rs 340 for his glib talk. Serves me right!” I cursed myself for my gullibility. The only silver lining was that my wife too was in the picture all the time. “Yes, I accept; I too was fooled by his talk,” was her gracious remark.
(The writer’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org)